Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 91.djvu/544

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528

��Popular Science Monthly

���The Simple Form-Board Test

Tests of this kind do not involve the use of language and are valuable in examining foreigners. The face test in the illustration was devised by Dr. Knox. The prisoner is«trying to place the nose piece where the eye belongs. This test is very simple since each piece of wood has a design of a part of the face drawn on one side of it and only one arrangement is possible

��shown to be suffering from some degree of mental abnormality.

Many of these cases would have escaped the detection of the casual observer. The symptoms were not marked, and only by care- ful examina- tion was the real nature of the maladies brought out. Many of the cases were hopeful. That is, prompt and energetic treatment would have cured them, so that fur- ther criminal practises would have been pre- vented.

It must not be assumed that all criminals are abnormal mentally. Some, in fact, de- liberately enter upon a career of crime just as any person might choose a profession. Still, lack of education, bad companionship, unfavorable home and neighborhood en- vironment play a most important part in the life of a normal criminal. All repeated offenders show a certain amount of judg- ment-error. They do not learn or do not want to learn that "it pays to be good." Real reformative measures often help. To stigmatize an individual for life is unfair as well as useless. If a criminal is unsound mentally he should be treated, segregated or both. If he is sound mentally his case should be studied as an individual and a sincere attempt made to reach "the man inside." After such an eliminative process only a comparatively small residual will remain for whom the outlook is hopeless. A beginning has been made in all these fields, but much still remains to be done.

How the Criminal Is Tested

To classify the criminal population was the work of the New York Psychopathic Laboratory. It was proved beyond ques- tion that moral deviation is frequently associated with, and caused by, mental de- fectiveness or derangement.

It is not an easy matter to detect feeble-

��mindedness, nor even insanity, especially when characteristic signs or symptoms are not marked or are absent. Numerous tests are necessary. A single test alone is not significant. It was found at the Labora- tory that an investigation of the home conditions, hereditary traits, and even study of other mem- bers of the prisoner's family, often revealed most valu- able data.

Mental tests are of two main kinds — so - called Tests of Intelli- gence and so-called Form-Board Tests or "Tests of Doing." In the first named the use of language is involved and the subject answers a list of questions given, follows written directions, etc. The most valuable of these have been "standardized" — that is, after experimenting upon hundreds of nor- mal subjects of average intellect a deter- mination of the normal response has been made. The replies of any given subject are then compared with this normal standard and so a suggestive grading as to normality and subnormality can be made. In the Form-Board tests the results are interpreted in similar fashion. They are especially valuable in that the use of language is largely eliminated. In most of these the subject places irregularly shaped pieces of wood in a frame — only one arrangement being possible for a successful performance. This by no means covers the whole sub- ject of mental testing. Many other tests are in general use and the scoring is often difficult. The great value of psychological tests rests in the fact that in this way complicated mental processes are to a cer- tain degree objectified and thereby the personal equation and subjective interpre- tation on the part of the examiner is minimized. Often numerous procedures and tests that call for special abilities or intelligence reactions are necessary.

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